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The 6 Habits of Highly Successful (and Healthy) Dogs and Owners

Study after study shows how our pooches can help keep us healthy. Dog owners are more likely to get regular exercise, less likely to be overweight, and are better at handling stress.

It's not really surprising. Few things are more comforting than snuggling with your pup after a bad day. And what motivator could be more powerful than your dog's excited tail wagging at the prospect of going out for a walk? Unlike a human companion, your dog will never try to talk you into putting off exercise for tomorrow.

So how do you both get the most out of this mutually beneficial relationship? Develop the right habits together.

Take a walk every day.

A 30- to 60-minute walk can help you and your dog meet your daily exercise requirements and can also help improve your dog's behavior. Being cooped up at home day in and day out can get pretty boring, so many dogs who aren't walked regularly find entertainment in activities like barking at the neighbors or chewing your favorite slippers.

Incorporate the walk in your daily routine. Just like you wouldn't skip brushing your teeth, don't skip the walk. Having trouble finding the time? Wake up earlier. Get it out of the way before the responsibilities of the day interfere. It will also leave your dog in a more restful state when you head out for the day.

Have regular check-ups.

Your pup can't tell you when something's wrong and may actually hide symptoms from you. Why? In the wild, appearing sick can attract predators on the lookout for weaker prey. That works against dogs in the modern world, since it may take you longer to recognize a problem. Since Whistle tracks patterns in your dog's behavior, many users have reported uncovering medical issues they would have otherwise overlooked by noting a significant change in physical activity or feeding.

Don't wait until your dog is sick to go to the vet. And don't put off dealing with a behavioral issue until it gets more serious. The same, of course, is true for your own physical and mental health.

Make it fun.

Just because you're trying to develop good habits doesn't mean you can't add some variety. If you're avoiding exercise with your dog, often it's boredom that's the culprit. Change up your walk route. Visit a nearby park. Or skip the walk entirely, and play a game of fetch instead. Don't trade turns with the "chore" of walking your dog; make it a daily event for the entire family. There are endless ways that you can make your relationship with your dog a more rewarding part of your life and family, and your dog will benefit from the increased mental challenge.

Develop relationships with other owners.

What's better than canine companionship? Having both human and canine companionship. Befriend other owners and dogs that you pass on the walk—you already have one thing in commoinstalln! Often your dog will start the introduction process for you. Take the next step by extending your hand to the owner. Other ways to make friends include starting a dog walking club, frequenting the dog park, and joining a dog sport.

Get training.

Basic commands, such as sit, stay, come, and drop it, help keep your dog safe. You can more effectively communicate in emergency situations, such as running out towards a busy street or eating a poisonous food. It can also make spending time with your dog more pleasant. If you have trouble maintaining control of your dog, just taking a quick walk around the block can be a more stressful experience.

Snuggle.

Relaxing with your dog can be a powerful mood enhancer. It strengthens your bond, lowers your blood pressure, increases your body's production of relaxation hormones, and decreases levels of stress hormones. The more stressful your day, the more time you should spend petting your pup – whether it's while relaxing on the couch or sleeping in bed at night. If you can visit with your pet during work breaks, even better.


Apr 30, 2014

Tags:   pet tips   pet parenting  

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